How the Cold Weather can Benefit your Garden

Green grass under the first snow close up
Winter brings with it the worries of the damage that the icy cold can do to your garden. We have already told you how to protect your garden from the elements during the winter months, however, winter does bring a few benefits to your garden if managed correctly.
Snow has two major benefits for your garden. It is an excellent insulator against very cold weather – plants can sit snug under a layer of snow and emerge healthy, whereas a chill wind in higher air temperatures can do permanent damage. It also slowly releases moisture into the soil when it melts, without the run-off that the same volume of rain would inevitably entail.
This slow release of moisture into your soil is extremely nourishing for plants and grass, as it slowly releases minerals and nourishment into the soil. Most notable is the amount of nitrogen released into the soil, which is great for plant growth when the weather warms up.
When it comes to frost, there are also benefits from the garden reaching such low temperatures. Cultivated soil left in clods will break down and become lovely tilth, simply through being frosted. All the fungal problems that accompany warm, wet summers, such as black spot and canker, are blitzed by sustained cold weather. Overwintering aphids, slugs and snails die off, too.
However, the danger comes not from the frost itself, but from the speed at which it thaws. Too rapid a thaw will kill a plant as effectively as too rapid a freeze. There must be time for the frozen water around the cells to slowly permeate back, otherwise the cells will rupture.
This is why camellias are often damaged when, after an overnight frost in spring, the early morning sun hits the frozen tissue before the air temperature has risen gradually and thawed it slowly.
Overall, there are benefits and hindrances at any time of year, you just have to make the most of what you’ve got to make sure your garden is as healthy as possible all year round.